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Manchester City ‘close to signing’ Barcelona midfielder in major January deal

Barcelona's Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic celebrates after scoring during the Spanish Copa del Rey (King's Cup) round of 32 second leg football match FC Barcelona vs Hercules CF at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on December 21, 2016. / AFP / JOSEP LAGO        (Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)

Manchester City are closing in on the signing of Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitić according to Jutarnji list, one of the most read newspapers in Rakitić’s native Croatia.

28-year-old Rakitić has been an unused substitute in Barça’s last two La Liga games and hasn’t even been named in their squad to face Villarreal tonight, despite having no known injury.

And Jutarnji list claims he is very close to sealing a move to the Etihad and a club he scored against in Barcelona’s 1-0 win over the Blues in March 2015.

The Croatian outlet claims this information comes from a source with ‘perfect insight’ into major European transfers and adds that the emergence of former City youngster Denis Suárez, plus the arrival of £41.7 million signing André Gomes, mean Barça are open to selling the midfielder.

Pep Guardiola and Txiki Begiristain are reportedly convinced that the technically gifted Rakitić can slot into the City side, and with İlkay Gündoğan out for a long time through injury and Yaya Touré’s contract coming to an end, see the midfielder as an ideal partner for Fernandinho and David Silva.

While Jutarnji list seem certain that this deal is going to happen, they are unaware of what the fee would be, and speculate his value to be in the region of €50 million (£43 million).

Pep Guardiola has said he does not plan to add a midfielder to his side this month, with defence more of a priority, and it remains to be seen whether this big story from Croatia has any legs to it.

20:00 UPDATE: Rakitić’s agent has denied any talk of his client leaving Barcelona at this time, telling Mundo Deportivo that there is ‘nothing’ to media reports. MD add that Jutarnji list have excellent sources when it comes to Croatian players, but unless Rakitić’s agent is being coy, this may be a non-starter.

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